West Frankfort finishes fiscal year with surplus

In the same manner that most of us want our household to end up at the end of every pay period, the City of West Frankfort finished the fiscal year with more money coming in the door than went out.
An audit report accepted by the West Frankfort City Council at its Thursday night meeting showed a surplus of $139,000, according to Fiance Commissioner Mike Simpson.
Mayor Tom Jordan called the audit “pretty good,” but said he wished it could have been better. He noted a decision to change worker’s compensation providers in 2012 had resulted in savings to the city, and that the city would continue to look for ways to cut expenditures.
One area of concern mentioned was a loss of $7,800 in the water/sewer department. Jordan said the council may need to look at a rate increase in 2013.
In other action, the West Frankfort City Council:
  • Reported that the city will begin the process of buying energy under electric aggregation on Friday morning, when supplier responses are due to Select Energy, the company West Frankfort is using as the energy broker. These responses will be studied by the company before the next phase of the project, according to Mayor Jordan.
  • Approved a bid to Randy Pearce Construction for a handicap ramp at the Veteran’s Memorial and Museum. Pearce Consruction was  the low bidder. The 5-foot wide  by 60-foot long ramp will allow handicapped persons access to the Museum located next to the railroad tracks.Approved paying routine bills of $372,532.55 for the month. This included payment for liability/workman comp insurance premium of $ 202,000.
  • Voted on a provisional approval to transfer the liquor license from the current owners of Tom’s Mad Pricer to the new owners, pending sale believed to be completed in January.
  • Approved final payments for the Mainline Road project.
  • Approved a payment of $3,935 to Grimm Auto Repair for brake work on a fire department vehicle.
In commissioner reports, both Street Commissioner Tara Fasol-Chambers and Finance Commissioner Simpson praised work done by Street Department crews to clear city streets following this week’s blizzard. Fasol-Chambers said that they were hampered by having two members of their five member crew off work.
Finally, an end-of-the-year problem will necessitate a special council meeting on Monday, Dec. 31 at 3 p.m. Local tavern owners have requested a 2 a.m. closing on Monday night for New Year’s Eve. However, the request was not made in time to get the item on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting. The Council will take up both New Year’s Eve bar hours and Super Bowl Sunday bar hours at the meeting on Monday.

New tenant expected at West Frankfort business incubator


City officials say they have a verbal commitment from a business expected to occupy 75,000 square feet at West Frankfort’s Business Incubator.

West Frankfort Mayor Tom Jordan announced at the Dec. 11 city council meeting that Irwin Industries had toured the portion of the facility once occupied by Raytech Machining and are interested in moving into the space.

The energy industry construction conglomerate is based in Long Beach, California. West Frankfort’s central location near Illinois Basin coal mines is attractive to Irwin’s division that sells, repairs and maintains long wall jacks, Jordan said.

Though specific numbers are not available yet, Jordan said that Irwin’s move into the facility would create jobs.

Irwin Industries makes the third new tenant at the business incubator in as many months. The council also voted to spend $2,150 for office construction expenses for J&J Gaming, another of the incubator’s new tenants.

In other action, the West Frankfort City Council:

  • Approved the city’s annual tax levy ordinance, effective May 1, 2012 through April 30, 2013. The ordinance includes a 5 percent increase in the tax levy. Mayor Tom Jordan said the city’s tax levy, which is largely used to pay for police and fire pensions, represents about 10 percent of the city’s $12.7 million total annual budget.
  • Designated three street parking spaces on the east side of Emma Street, south of Oak Street and north of the alley, for the exclusive use of Morthland College. Street Commissioner Tara Fasol-Chambers explained that because of tight parking in the area, the college, which has recently moved into the old First Christian Church / Grace Baptist Fellowship building, had requested some designated spaces for a few staff members with health issues, and for loading and unloading. Signs will be erected denoting the restricted spaces.
  • Approved no parking signs for the block of Mulberry Street between Oak and Elm streets. Fasol-Chambers said that because the street is narrow, residents have trouble accessing their driveways when street parking is allowed.
  • Added Sam E. Ward and Christian M. Whittington to West Frankfort’s auxiliary police force, at the request of Police Chief Jeff Tharp.
  • Approved the transfer of Lake Lot Lease No. 84 from James and Jean Reeder to Glenn and Kay Bridewell.
  • Proclaimed December as Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month in West Frankfort, as part of a national campaign sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
  • Approved a calendar of city council meetings for 2013. The council will continue to meet at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, with the exception of the second meeting in December. It has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 23 to avoid conflicts with Christmas Eve.
  • Approved a payment of $11,713.29 to Brown & Roberts Inc. for 2012 motor fuel tax program engineering.
  • Approved change order No. 4 for the Route 37 water main relocation as part of the road construction project there. This change actually decreased the contract amount by $32,867.09.
  • Approved the final payment of $5,000 to KPS, Inc. for the Route 37 water main relocation.
  • Approved a payment of $2,302 to Frank Tresso for repairs of two pieces of Street Department equipment – the jet truck and the 580 backhoe.
  • Approved a new sign for Pup’s 212 Tavern.

The next regular meeting of the West Frankfort City Council will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 27 at City Hall.

WF Council donates land to Habitat for Humanity

West Frankfort Mayor Tom Jordan visits with local Habitat for Humanity board members, including President Vanessa Sneed, right, at West Frankfort City Hall. The board members attended the West Frankfort City Council meeting Tuesday night to thank the city for the donation of a lot to be developed by the nonprofit.

A lot on East Elm Street in West Frankfort is set to become the fourteenth piece of property developed by the Helping Hands unit of the Franklin County Habitat for Humanity, after the West Frankfort City Council voted to donate the land at 1102 E. Elm Street during their regular meeting Tuesday night.

In other action at the meeting, Franklin County Assistant State’s Attorney Steve Swofford presented $1,000 to the city for its Police work on drug cases. Swofford went on to say that the West Frankfort Police Department had conducted more than 70 controlled substance buys since Jan. 1 in the course of investigating illegal drug sales in the city. He commended the department and Police Chief Jeff Tharp, calling their work “first class, first rate.” City Attorney Mike Riva added that he commended State’s Attorney Evan Owens and his staff for their “aggressive prosecution” of drug cases.

Council members also approved a new resident for the Business Incubator – J&J Gaming. The firm will be working on a state contract for video gaming in the region. The city will spend $6,422.12 to build a security fence at the Business Incubator for the gaming company. Mayor Tom Jordan said he believed that J&J Gaming will be creating jobs in West Frankfort.

The council voted to accept a land donation at 513 W. Midway Street as part of the city’s renewal program. Buildings on the lot will be torn down, and the lot will be made available for sale and development.

— Bruce A. Fasol

Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News